August 22, 2016

Crayon Brands Coloring Test

There's a great variety of prices of crayons, especially at back to school sale time from fifty cents to a penny.  So many choices...how to choose!  We want to send nice things to the children in our boxes, but we don't want to spend money just to get a name.  So I decided to do some tests.

We tested five brands for both coloring quality and resistance to heat (that they might experience in transit).  The brands we tested were Crayola which you can normally get for $0.50 at Walmart & Dollar General during back to school sales.  Cra-Z-Art are normally $0.25 during back-to-school sales at Walmart.  Playskool can be found at Dollar Tree and other dollar stores for $1.  Dollar General offers a brand I*Magine often 3 for $1 or $0.33/$0.34 a piece at Back-to-school.  Also at Office Depot I got some Scholastic brand for $0.01.   All those prices are for 24 count except Playskool that is 36.  Now crayons exact make up may change from year to year, or from batch to batch, especially cheaper ones that may have less stringent controls, but this is the best info we can give you.   For those who are concerned about manufacture location:  most of the boxes said made in China, Crayola said made in the USA, but some are also made Mexico, you'll have to check the package if it matters to you.

First, how do they color?

Everyone has different preferences in coloring tools.  For instance, I prefer gel pens and hate ball point pens, but other members of my family like ball point and don't like gel pens.  So, it's hard to tell what others look for in crayons, but here's how our test turned out (thanks to my mom, Cheryl for testing and writing the guest review):

"For overall ease of use I was surprised that I found all the crayons easy to color with.  They all put down nice color.  So overall I would gladly share any of the five brands with a child in my life.  Now for the specifics.

Heavy Pressure Coloring Test Results

I wanted to see how the crayons held up under heavy pressure coloring and how the colors stayed true to the crayon itself.  Also, if the crayons wore down quickly.  I was surprised that all of the crayons seemed to hold up well and none of them broke as I colored.  Details of each are below image.

Fish image from Crafting for Shoeboxes Colouring Booklets.
  1. Crayola
    1. Rich color; pretty even coverage.
    2. Closely matches color of crayon.
    3. Left the most "crumbles" of all the crayons tested.
  2. CraZArt (WalMart)
    1. Rich color; a little less even coverage than Crayola, but not much.
    2. Color was true to crayon.
    3. Was crumbly, too, but not as much as Crayola.
  3. Playskool (Dollar Tree)
    1. Compared to the others, the color was much lighter than the crayon, but had nice, even coverage.
    2. The results looked much more like colored pencils.  Which I thought for older children, or adults, would be nice.
    3. It was impossible to get a dark, rich color even with much pressure.
    4. Were not very crumbly.
    5. Actually, these were my favorite to color with.
  4. I*Magine (Dollar General)
    1. Did not color as darkly.
    2. Least even coverage.
    3. Surprising not very crumbly.
    4. Probably my least favorite.
  5. Scholastic (Office Depot)
    1. Colored quite darkly.
    2. Left some white spaces, but pretty much colored nicely.
    3. Not excessively crumbly.
I also tried coloring gently on a scrap piece of paper and each one performed pretty much as above.  You can see the heavy and light pressure coloring on in this image:



In conclusion, as I said earlier, I was surprised by the results (I went into the test with pre-conceived opinions as to "name brand means better") and that I would gladly share any of these crayons with a special child in my life.  As for sending them in an Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift that is going to depend on the results of the heat/melting test.  If they melt in transit they will not do the child any good.  And they may leave oily residue on the other gifts in the box."

I also put some strong (but not excessive pressure) on all of the crayons and still none of them broke, so they all seemed surprisingly sturdy.

You can also see a test done by a five year old that Clip with Purpose did here: http://www.clipwithpurpose.com/crayon-testing/ .

If you'd like to make some coloring books to go with your crayons stop by Crafting for Shoeboxes and download the Colouring Booklets.  She has them for all ages and sizes for both US and European paper sizes.

Second, how do they hold up to heat?

There have been some concerns about how some crayons might hold up to high temperatures they may be exposed to in transit to their recipients.  So, we did some tests to see how the different brands held up to different temperatures, you can see the results here if you're interested on this blog soon, I'll edit this post to add a link once it's done.

So, that's what we found from out tests...hope this helps someone make a more informed decision on which brand to send, it's helped us decide.  If you do a large number, you might want to test them for yourself-we plan to put the unused crayons from the test boxes in soap boxes and send them in shoeboxes (unless any brands fail the heat stress test).

Happy Packing!

August 20, 2016

Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ 8/20/2016

My sister and I both were able to stop and pick up the penny deals at Office Depot, I only got a photo of mine, though, but we got double of this. I'm waiting to decide on whether or not to send this brand of crayons until I do some more tests on it's quality.
I stopped by Dollar General and picked up a few of the Summer toys marked 40% off...they rang up 66% off (no clue why).  So I picked up some more, then when I went to another one and picked up a couple things to test the clearance, and it wasn't on clearance at all! ...odd!!


I also picked up some of these cute toddler baseballs 50% off at CVS

Spent from shoebox packing budget: $10.71

Spent from gift cards earned or won online: $3.74

Added to stockpile:
  • 16 jump ropes
  • 1 par work gloves
  • 1 butterfly toy
  • 1 kite string 
  • 5 toddler baseballs
  • 60 pens
  • 6 pencils sharpeners

Happy Packing!

August 13, 2016

Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ 8/13/2016

My sister and I were both able to stop by Dollar General and use their digital coupon for $5 off $20 school supplies for sale items, so ended up with all this:

My sister had just signed up for Dollar General digital coupons, and got a $1 off any $1.01 purchase, used it to pick a pack of combs and a jump rope that was 40% off with the other summer toys.

We also both stopped at Office Depot and both picked up the poly notebooks and mini boxes (for fishing kits)

I also stopped by Mighty Dollar to pick up some more of those super cute foam animal puzzles I found last week.

Spent from shoebox packing budget: $40.12

Spent from gift cards earned or won online: $0

Added to stockpile:
  • 40 boxes of 24 Crayola Crayons
  • 13 boxes of 12 Crayola colored pencils 
  • 14 packs of 18 pencils
  • 1 pack of 3 combs
  • 1 jumpropes 
  • 6 mini boxes
  • 6 poly notebooks
  • 4 sets of foam animal puzzles (8 animals per set plus 2 scenes)

Happy Packing!

August 6, 2016

Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ 8/6/2016

I did a couple orders online for shoeboxes that I got in the last week.

First, from Amazon I got these toothbrush holders ( Medline Toothbrush Holders, 72 count)  I'm really happy with them as they seem to hold all different kinds of toothbrushes I've got deals on. I was even able to fit two of the cheaper ones in!  I like to try to send more expensive ones (that I get on sale with coupons, see simplycvsshopping.com for more info on how I do that) when possible as I hope they're last longer then cheaper ones, and as I can often get them for around $0.25 a piece for nice name brand ones, I thought it was worth it.

From Dollar Tree I ordered these (Plastic Snack Containers with Lock-Top Lids, 3-ct. Packs) fellow packers recommended for soap cases. I really like them, they even have a seal which I hope will keep the scent in.
I was really happy about being able to get these cases as that's something I really wanted to add to my boxes this year.  With so many of the children getting boxes living in poor houses with nowhere clean to store them or in refugee camps, or orphanages where they have to share washrooms, it just seemed like something good to add if I could


I stopped at Office Depot after church to get some of the penny and quarter deals

My sister was also able to stop and get more of the quarter deals


I had an $8 ECB I'd got at CVS from buying oral care items for shoeboxes that was going to expire, so I picked up four of these $2.50 T-shirts for the 10-14 boy boxes, as they were still on our needed list...we're getting really close to everything we need for the year...still picking up fun stuff as we find it though-more to shove in our boxes this year, or a start for next year.

When I stopped by Mighty Dollar to pick up something we needed, I saw this, decided to pick up one to check it out-they turned out to be really cute!!!  Jungle and ice scenes, lion, gorilla, polar bear, walrus, two penguins, and a mama and young elephant.


Spent from shoebox packing budget: $4.33

Spent from gift cards earned or won online: $46.48

Added to stockpile:
  • 72 toothbrush cases
  • 72 cases to use for soap
  • 6 magic marker 10 packs
  • 9 erasers 
  • 3 composition books
  • 72 pens (red & black)
  • 4 t-shirts
  • 8 foam puzzle animals
Happy Packing!

July 30, 2016

Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ 7/30/2016

I stopped by Office Depot on my way home from church and picked up some penny deals and the colored pencils:

My sister was able to stop by Office Depot and get three more packs of the colored pencils:

I had a beauty club (that I got in part from my Ivory deal) ECB that was going to expire, so I picked up two of the 4/$10 T-shirts for free!  I also got a free Lollipop with another transaction:

Spent from shoebox packing budget: $3.30

Spent from gift cards earned or won online: $0

Added to stockpile:
  • 3 school supply boxes
  • 18 mechanical pencils
  • 3 packs index cards
  • 6 packs colored pencils
  • 2 T-shirts
  • 1 lollipop 

Happy Packing!

July 23, 2016

Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ 7/23/2016

After church on Sunday I did some shoebox shopping.  First, I stopped at Office Depot to get some of the penny deals (got the paper with the rebate to get up to the $5 minimum purchase).

Then I ran to Dollar Tree to take advantage of their 10% off deal-I picked up the rest of the things I needed to pack sample boxes based on my "3 OCC shoeboxes for $29 from Dollar Tree" blog post-got some cute things!  Plus a ball pump.

Also, I forgot to post last week that we got in on the Kmart washcloth deal, unfortunately with white washcloths-but at $0.03 a piece instead of $0.50+, couldn't pass it up!


We got an email from Kmart saying we'd get any reward points we used (up to $20, with restrictions), so I used my washcloth rewards (plus a few more) to get the below, I don't think I quite got all my points back, some must have been on clearance or something, but still a good deal, now just to be sure to use the bonus points before they expire 7/30.




Stopped by Hobby Lobby to check for the reported 80% off clearance.  I found these foam gliders, it worked out to 30 cents a glider

I also ran into Mighty Dollar to pick up some supper cute things we'd seen and Mom wanted to get while we could for next year's boxes, plus I picked up a few more math kits for next year.

Also, we realized through a tip that the scissors weren't the ones Office Depot advertised, so we emailed to say we were disappointed it wasn't the same, and they gave us a partial refund, so that helps the packing budget! :)

Spent from shoebox packing budget: $45.11

Spent from gift cards earned or won online: $0

Added to stockpile:
  • 3 pencil sharpeners
  • 3 spiral notebooks
  • 3 pencil cases
  • 9 erasers
  • 1 ball pump
  • 3 lined notebooks
  • 2 plain pads of paper
  • 1 coloring book
  • 4 eraser & sharpener combos
  • 4 pens
  • 12 pencils
  • 6 stencils
  • 1 pack of crayons
  • 3 combs
  • 3 toothbrushes & holders
  • 4 washcloths
  • 3 balls
  • 1 puzzle
  • 1 bag marbles
  • 1 waterbottle
  • 1 totebag
  • multible hair bands
  • 1 board book
  • 4 prisims 
  • 1 baby doll
  • 10 stuffed animals
  • 10 pulling toys
  • 3 math sets
  • 6 gliders
  • 1 Dinosaur
  • 1 Hotwheel Track 

Happy Packing!
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